Action Alert: Think Global, Act Local

A letter from our Executive Director, Mike Riley.

A simple but powerful idea guides our work here at The Environmental Center: Local action can make a world of difference. I’m reminded of its importance as we enter the new year and a new season of decision-making by our elected leaders.

Climate change is the environmental issue of our day. And while action to reduce climate pollution is needed at all levels, we have the most control over what happens at the state and local level. In 2019, our elected officials have some important opportunities to take meaningful steps forward to reduce Bend and Oregon’s climate pollution. I hope you’ll take time to remind them that you support bold action.

In Salem, the Oregon Legislature is poised to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill. The bill would set a cap on climate pollution, require permits to emit such pollution, sell the permits through an auction, and reinvest the proceeds in activities that move Oregon to a low-carbon, clean energy future. These activities could include energy efficiency improvements and solar power for low-income families, electric vehicle infrastructure, soil and water conservation, and more.

Here in Bend, our City Council will be adopting a new transportation plan later this year that will guide walking, driving, biking and transit investments for the next 20 years. Our City Councilors will have the opportunity to invest not only in roads, but also in building a low-stress bike network across the whole community; completing our sidewalk systems in existing and new neighborhoods; and improving transit service. They’ll have the opportunity to invest in making our streets safer for all users: drivers, bikers, walkers and people with disabilities.

But none of this will happen unless our elected leaders hear from you. They need to know that you value state and local action that will lead to a cool, clean atmosphere and safe streets that get people out of their cars. Why? Because it’s good for people, it’s good for the economy and it’s good for the environment. It will ensure a better future for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

So as we enter the new year, think global and act local by making your voice heard. Communicate with our elected leaders. Tell them what you care about, and encourage them to take bold action.

Contact information for all Oregon State Senators by District.

Contact information for all Oregon State Representatives by District.

Not sure who represents you? Find out here.

Energy Challenge Installs Free LED Light Bulbs in 700 Redmond Homes

The Energy Challenge team is excited to announce they have installed free LED light bulbs in 700 homes in Redmond! Over the past three years, The Energy Challenge has installed over 75,000 super-efficient LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs in over 5,000 homes in Central Oregon. Each bulb may seem like a small drop in the bucket, but cumulatively these bulbs will save Central Oregon residents over $13.8 Million, or an annual savings of almost $500,000.

This free program connects Central Oregon residents, homeowners and renters alike, with resources to save energy instantly. As soon as you switch a light on, you are already using 80% less energy than a conventional light bulb. Efficient water-saving fixtures can also help save energy by reducing the amount of hot water that needs to be heated, and of course, the amount of water consumed. In addition to instant savings, participants are connected with resources to take their energy savings a step further through other opportunities such as heat pump water heaters, ductless heat pumps, and solar power systems.

Deanna Nielsen and her two daughters were the lucky Redmond residents living in the 700th home to get the free LEDs. By installing these bulbs and water-saving fixtures in their home, Deanna and other participants are helping their community by saving energy – which helps to prevent the need for more power plants. The amount of energy saved each year with these light bulbs has an energy equivalent it takes to power 333 homes for one year.

“We hope this illustrates that even your smallest actions add up to something much bigger than yourself,” said Neil Baunsgard, Program Manager of The Energy Challenge. “When you’re making changes to save energy, however small, you’re part of a community-wide movement and you truly are making a difference.”

The program is scheduled to run through the end of December 2018 and is available in Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Madras and Tumalo. Residents are encouraged to sign up online or by calling at 541-385-6908 X26. This program is made possible through collaboration with Energy Trust of Oregon and Central Electric Cooperative.

The Energy Challenge Installs LED Light Bulbs in 5,000th home in Central Oregon

The Energy Challenge, a program of The Environmental Center, is proud to announce they installed free LED light bulbs in the 5,000th home in Central Oregon. Over the past three years, the program has installed over 75,000 super-efficient LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs. Each bulb may seem like a small drop in the bucket, but cumulatively these bulbs will save Central Oregon residents over $13.8 Million, or an annual savings of almost $500,000.

Each Central Oregon household, including renters and owners, receive up to 16 free super-efficient LED light bulbs, which use 80% less energy than the incandescent bulbs being replaced. In addition, each household receives free water-saving fixtures that can help save energy by reducing the amount of hot water that needs to be heated — and of course, the amount of water consumed.

On October 4, Carmen Kinder and the three teenagers of her household were excited to be the 5,000th Central Oregon residents to receive free LED bulbs through The Energy Challenge. In addition to instant savings, participants are connected with resources to take their energy savings a step further through other opportunities such as heat pump water heaters, ductless heat pumps, and solar.

By participating in this program, individuals are making a difference in their community. The amount of energy saved each year with these light bulbs has an energy equivalent to what it takes to power 333 homes for one year.

“We hope this illustrates that even your smallest actions add up to something much bigger than yourself,” said Neil Baunsgard, Program Director of the Free LED Program. “When you’re making changes to save energy, however small, you’re part of a community-wide movement and you truly are making a difference.”

The program is available in Sisters, Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Madras, Tumalo, and surrounding areas. Residents are encouraged to sign up at TheEnergyChallenge.org/freebulbs or by calling at 541-385-6908 X26

This program is made possible through collaboration with Energy Trust of Oregon and Central Electric Cooperative.

Help to Write Bend’s Climate Legacy

There was recently a really interesting and visually compelling story featured in The Washington Post.

Imagine an arctic lake in the Western Brooks Range that hisses and bubbles as it releases hard-hitting methane gas into our atmosphere. Now consider this same lake bed ALSO contains craters that show signs of unleashing ancient fossil fuels from a reserve that had once been sealed. And if this weird hybrid of what’s happening at Esieh Lake is happening across the top of the world, this could be a big blow to our climate system.

Strange stories like this one are becoming more and more prevalent across the globe, driving home the fact that our climate is changing dramatically (and quickly) due to human activities. But you don’t have to travel to the Arctic to feel the destructive consequences of climate change. We just experienced the fifth-driest summer in Bend’s history, impacting local irrigation and farming, wildfire behavior, and more.

Right now, we have the chance to take local climate action that will make a difference here at home, while contributing to a global purpose. Our climate legacy is being written at this very moment, as the City of Bend works to implement the Climate Action Resolution that was adopted in 2016. We now need our community’s support to complete Bend’s climate action plan – the first such plan in Oregon east of the Cascades. Please show your commitment to this effort, which will produce tangible, practical strategies for Bend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Your dollars will help Bend step up to the challenge of leaving a healthy climate for future generations.

Donate today and help us reach the $10,000 goal. Learn more and show your support here.

Green Tour Sneak Peek #3-Locally generated renewable energy

Homegrown renewable energy is expanding in Central Oregon–both for residential use and utility-scale and rightfully so. We have some of the best solar potential in the US. This is an opportunity to visit a solar farm and get behind the scenes.

Local Cypress Creek Renewables staff will be on site at the solar farm on Neff Road to discuss the development process, the energy generation, give you a tour, and answer any questions you may have about utility-scale solar projects.

This 10 MW solar project covers 62 acres on Neff Road and just east of Big Sky Park. It produces enough energy to power 3,000 homes. The power that is generated is sold to Pacific Power. With 67% of Pacific Power’s current energy mix coming from coal, this is a really big and important step in the direction to creating a clean energy future here in Central Oregon.

Close-toed shoes required. You will be required to wear safety equipment and sign a liability waiver.

Only 10 spots available per hour. On the Green Tour, tours will start at the top of the hour from 10:00 – 4:00. 

Reserve your spot on a solar farm tour!

Tour Guides

Eric Prezzia, O&M, Cypress Creek Renewables

Amy Berg Pickett, Cypress Creek Renewables;

Address

21836 Neff Rd, Bend

See the full map and detials of Green Tour sites!

Green Tour Sneak Peek #2

In addition to green homes, this year’s Green Tour will also showcase two commercial buildings that are leading the way to a clean energy future. Both happen to be nonprofit organizations and are demonstrating that energy efficiency and renewable energy is good for the bottom line.

The new Bend Science Station is a living laboratory for students to better understand the connection of technology, design, innovation and our environment.

The Bend Science Station is a zero energy building. This means that on an annual basis, the building will produce as much energy from the solar electric panels on the roof as it uses. They will pay $0 for electricity usage each year!

“Our motivations were also based on fiscal responsibility,” said Lisa Bermudez, Development Director. While the net-zero benefits of our new building were instructional compelling, the savings in operating costs and utility bills were equally considerable.”

Other cool features? You betcha! The building has a rooftop tower, which is not only a unique architectural feature, but also provides natural ventilation. This enables the team to passively control temperature (which complies with Zero Energy standards) AND provides specialized space for physics experiments.

Stop by on the Green Tour, Saturday, September 29th from 10:00-4:30 to learn even more! 

Green Tour Sneak Peek

This year, the Green Tour will showcase a whole spectrum of homes that are doing their part to save energy. Each year, we are fortunate to find homeowners, businesses, and builders who are willing to show us what they’ve been working on and share their ideas so that we can all find the energy-saving potential of our own homes and offices. We’ll be showcasing off-grid homes, zero energy homes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs),  homes that have undergone energy retrofits, and commercial buildings.

Here’s a sneak peek of just one of the zero energy homes:

Photo credit: Sunlight Solar Energy

  • Estimated Monthly Energy Costs: $0
  • Solar electric system: 8.4 kW
  • Estimated electricity production: 8,972 kWh
  • Estimated net electricity usage: -274 kWh
  • Carbon footprint: 0 tons/year (this home build to code would have a footprint of 81 tons/year)
  • Space heating: Electric heat pump
  • Water heating: Electric heat pump water heater
  • Water conservation: Low fixtures and toilet
  • Transportation: Electric vehicle (Tesla Model S)

Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory Completed

Results to be presented on August 2nd

On September 7, 2016, the Bend City Council adopted a Climate Action Resolution that laid out a clear pathway for Bend to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Now, almost two years later, Bend’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory is complete and action planning is about to get started. Next week is a great opportunity to catch up on how far we’ve come, learn what’s next in the process, and continue to demonstrate our support for local climate action.

A brief refresher…

After the Resolution was adopted, the City of Bend needed help to fund implementation of the Resolution. Working together, the City, The Environmental Center, Oregon League of Conversation Voters, and other local activists set out to raise $175,000.

First, The City of Bend committed $50,000. Next, we called on Bend citizens and businesses to show their support – and you answered, helping us raise $25,000! With those funds in hand, we were then able to secure $100,000 in grants from Partners for Places and donor-advised funds of the Oregon Community Foundation.

Our successful fundraising effort set the stage for what’s happened this year. The City hired a Sustainability Coordinator in March and appointed a citizen-led Climate Action Steering Committee in April, to oversee the climate action planning effort and identify priority action strategies. Lindsey Hardy, Energy Challenge program director at The Environmental Center and Mike O’Neil of Solaire Homebuilders are co-chairs of the committee.

And that gets us to August 2018. Next week, the steering committee will formally receive and discuss the recently completed community greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The inventory identifies the primary sources of Bend’s emissions and forms the foundation for the action planning that will begin this fall.

The inventory will be presented to the Climate Action Steering Committee at its public meeting on Thursday, August 2nd, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall. From 3:00 to 4:30, the consultants that prepared the inventory will present, and then the committee will discuss and ask questions. If time allows, community members may also be able to engage directly with the consultants; otherwise, community members can ask questions during the public input section of the meeting at approximately 5:30. Go here to see the full agenda for the committee’s meeting.

In the coming months, subcommittees will be formed to explore greenhouse gas reduction strategies. Stay tuned for details on subcommittee recruitment, how you can get involved, and meeting schedules. All subcommittee meetings will also be open to the public.

Working together, we’ve catalyzed adoption and implementation of Bend’s Climate Action Resolution.

Thank you for helping us get this far. Now, let’s keep the momentum rolling. Please continue to show up in support of local action to reduce climate pollution! We hope to see you at City Hall on August 2nd.

2018 Legislative Session: The Good & The Bad

The 2018 legislative session is over and, as always, there’s some good news and some bad news from Salem.

The bad news is that neither the Clean Energy Jobs or the Home WRAP bills passed. Despite all the support the bills received from Oregonians across the state, the dynamics of a short session and a tight budget killed both bills.

The good news is that legislative leaders and the governor agreed to work together to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill in the 2019 legislature. Thanks to support from thousands of citizens and businesses, legislators heard loud and clear that Oregonians want to take action to reduce our contribution to climate pollution. Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney will co-chair a new, bipartisan Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, and Governor Kate Brown will create a new Carbon Policy Office, both of which will help prepare the legislature for passing the bill next year.

<Read more about what happened on Clean Energy Jobs this session from our partners at Renew Oregon, who are leading the campaign to pass the bill.>

The future of the Home WRAP bill is not so clear. Its innovative approach to incentivizing investments in energy efficiency and solar for Oregonians of all income levels received a lot of positive feedback from legislators. But the program required new funds and the legislature’s budget writers were firmly opposed to any new spending this year. The bill’s sponsors are still assessing its prospects for 2019.

Your voice made a difference this year and will be essential to getting Clean Energy Jobs (and perhaps Home WRAP, too) across the finish line in 2019. We’re committed to keeping you informed and engaged when things heat up again in Salem next January.

So stay tuned for 2019!

City of Bend Needs Volunteers to Help Develop its Climate Action Plan

Do you want to see the Bend community become a leader in reducing climate pollution? Now is your chance, by serving on the City of Bend’s Climate Action Steering Committee.

Last week, the Bend City Council established the Climate Action Steering Committee to work with City staff to develop a climate action plan for the Council consideration by September 2019. The Committee will include 11 volunteer members that reflect the community, including citizens, businesses, academics, local government and youth.

Online applications are open now and are due Friday, March 2 by 5 pm.

Learn more here.